I actually enjoyed this documentary which showed how hard it was for screenwriters during the hunt for communists in America. I liked Dalton Trumbo's clever way of writing, which was truly wasted during this period. He wrote movies like Spartacus and in some of his films he had to go under a different name, even though he did win a couple of Oscars, which one of them he couldn't collect. The director of this documentary cleverly used great actors to narrate some of Trumbo's story through his own writings, which shows how Trumbo used words in a extraordinary way. The only problem that I found with the film was that it doesn't really show what movies Trumbo made or his actually contribution to Hollywood, which is a shame because he was a highly talented individual. The movie concentrates on the negative side of his life more than the whole writing process which would have made a better documentary but it's definitely worth a watch just to see how far we have come in the movie world. Watchable!
I must admit, it was the list of actors that drew me to this documentary and not the subject matter, but after watching it the thing that I enjoyed the most was the way that Trumbo wrote and his life story. The actors do portray his story well and because of the fact that they are all A-Listers, it shows how much Trumbo was highly respected. It's was good to see Kirk Douglas and Donald Sutherland, who have actually worked with Trumbo, so they were talking about there experiences with this great screen writer. We could do with a person like Trumbo in this day and age because there is a lack of scripts in Hollywood which are original and classed as classics.
I recommend this documentary to people who are interested in the writing process of making a film during the blacklist period. 5/10
Dalton Trumbo was a successful screen writer but evidently due to the nature of dialogue/content in some of his films, was accused of being a communist. An aside: I'm not sure I've come across better writing. The guy wrote tons of letters and, though wordy, they are simply brilliant. Regardless, Trumbo was one of several who pleaded the first amendment. The fifth amendment, which protects one against self-incrimination, did not apply to having or not having a political view. So they pleaded the first. Fantastic.
There are some great ideas in the movie, many of which I have had, none of which I could ever put into words so well. He writes about watching friends betray themselves and how easily he lets them go from his life. He talks about necessities versus free speech: when it comes to feeding and clothing your children, do you favor those needs over the need of free speech? Inevitably, the free speech is sacrificed first. Somehow, Trumbo made it work, often through using non-blacklisted friends to get his works out there. Maybe the most notorious was for The Brave One, which one an Oscar, and is probably the only Oscar trophy never claimed. When asked if he wrote it (he did), he neither claims or denies, but does say his young daughter knows the title of every movie he has written and has kept it secret and that she would be deserving of the Oscar. Again, fantastic.
A few people I've encountered seem to model my belief system. Trumbo is right there with the best of them. His beliefs are so principled and so defined, and they happen to be in tune with mine, which I think is logically and morally consistent or I wouldnt have them. Many claim to have similar principles but watch them go with the first sign of trouble. Trumbo gave a lot for his, and made his family suffer as well (though they did not seem to mind). It just sickens me that this fight took place then, before then, and still takes place now. Always an idea like freedom preached but very rarely practiced. It is always refreshing when someone understands that even the United States government, mostly a bunch of lackeys in suits, is not the ultimate authority. They are merely men voted into power. Sometimes, probably often even, they are wrong. And they cannot be called right merely because of who and where they are.
All that aside, a final note on the cast: awesome. Mostly they read Trumbo's letters and were highly effective. Straithairn, Neeson, Lucas, Michael Douglas, Lane, Giamatti, Allen, and Dennehy exceeded most of their acting work by merely reading this guy's letters. Kirk Douglas speaks as an actor who worked with Trumbo, and he is just as effective. On the topic, I gave Jim Carrey in The Majestic high marks, and Straithairn won acclaim playing Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck on the same subject. This documentary is a nice supplement to both.